Iyar Is For Healing
We made it out of slavery. So...we’re good? Not quite. After 400 years of suffering and struggle in narrow straits, Passover doesn’t conclude our freedom story. It’s actually just the beginning. Now that we’re finally free, it’s time to heal.
The month of Iyar challenges us to draw closer to our most sacred selves by changing our relationship with ourselves. Iyar is all about metamorphosing into the Badass of Light you have waiting inside. Maybe you’re not so sure about her existence. But don’t fret; we are.
Iyar offers an invaluable opportunity. We won’t become glittering, spiritually-emblazoned upholders of justice without some investment in self-healing. You might be thinking, “Well that sounds selfish; the whole world is suffering! How can I possibly justify spending time on healing myself?” But here’s some real talk: self-healing is critical because it’s all connected; the way we treat ourselves shows up in the way we treat others, big time.
If you’re still feeling skeptical, think of it this way: Jewish tradition teaches us that each human carries within them a Divine spark. Because you carry around that Divine shard inside, it means your individual healing is an element of universal healing.
But wait! We’re not even done! Check this too: the Hebrew letters of this name of this month, אִייָר, are an anagram for the Torah verse Ani Yud Yud Rofecha. Translation: “I am G-d, your healer.”
The message is clear: healing oneself is the way we connect to our greater “wholeness,” shleimut, in Hebrew.
Now, healing — what is that, exactly? Allow us to split a few linguistic hairs and look at the rabbis’ distinction between “cure” and “healing.”
For a terminally ill patient, a cure is beyond reach. But the option to heal, to become whole, is always possible. Kabbalist teachings believe the body, mind, and spirit are connected; a physical illness might trigger psychological and spiritual distress, but physical and psychological distress can also cause physical illness. That’s why Jews traditionally wish a sick person refuah shlema, "complete healing.”
Suffering, illness, and challenging moments are not foreign concepts in Judaism. But Jews don’t trip too hard, even when things get hard. That’s because Judaism teaches that challenges are elements of a natural order set in motion by the Divine. Encountering them is part of what it means to be human. As a result, we are constantly moving toward healing and wholeness, a process laid out for us in the Shabbat prayer Yedid Nefesh:
Take this month to rid yourselves of the cluttering, limiting beliefs of your mind and the nasty crap you may have put in your body. Give yourself permission to spend time looking at your deeper issues to bring yourself into new alignment. The pursuit of healing takes an enormous amount of courage, strength, and dedication. But, the Torah’s clear about this one: “Take very good care of yourself.” (Deuteronomy 4:15)
You’ve gotta heal before you can grow. Deepen in yourself to allow for greater connection to others. It’s a not a selfish thing to take care of yourself. Really. Self-care is a decidedly Jewish thing.
How can I become whole?
There’s no “right way” to heal. The rabbis would tell us that some combination of performing acts of kindness, caring for our bodies, praying, and studying Torah will guide us to refuah shelma. We At The Well homegirls would also sprinkle in some singing, dancing, herbal remedies, therapy sessions, creative expression, moon-bathing, healing touch, bubble bath-taking, acupuncture, and walks in nature, to name just a few healing pursuits we love.
This month, figure out what would help you heal. (Maybe talk with your Well Circle about it?) Once you figure it out, go do it!